29 December 2008

christmas '08

our story...

a letter

From December 13th

It’s late and dark and still. Not a creature is stirring on this mid-December night. It’s just me and my thoughts and the realization that the time to reflect on “the-year-in-the-life-of…” has returned. Hmmm… 2008.

It wasn’t exactly the year of rest, respite and revelation we anticipated a year ago. We didn’t stumble upon (or near) the meaning of life. We failed to eradicate world hunger, to reverse global warming, to amass great wealth with which to end poverty or great wisdom with which to cure cancer, or apathy, or tantrums, or laundry. Actually, this was the year we… we almost moved to Texas (huh?! long story). This was the year Cole turned three, tossed his passy and Pampers (!!!), and discovered his inner superhero! It was the year that Maya – nearly five and less than a year away from kindergarten (what?!?!) – unleashed her inner artist on the color-stained pages of a journal she totes everywhere. This year, Paul and I celebrated our seventh year of marriage and each faced our fair share laughs and disappointment. Oh, there are all kinds of stories to tell – sticky ones, silly ones and sweet ones – about the persons we have become and how we have each changed over the last year. In fact, in the first version of this letter, I did. But after sitting with it for a while and reading it through, I am certain that is not the direction our letter should go. So here goes…

In this year of pervasive economic hardship, Jesus’ prayer, “give us this day our daily bread,” has taken on new relevance for our family. Our means to “do Christmas” as we have done it in the past is not a part of our present. We’ve been forced to conserve, to rethink, to be mindful – to look within ourselves, and without ourselves, and mostly, above ourselves. It has been an exceptionally good thing. This year we’ve been blessed with the necessity to make Christmas about more than the tree or the gifts beneath it (or the lack thereof). Our eyes have been opened to see our abundance. Without a doubt, we are blessed. And yet, we are no longer content to simply recount, accept and appreciate our blessings; there is more. We need and want to be a blessing. We want to leave our indelible mark – to be known and remembered as a family that lived and served and loved.

Especially at this time when we seemingly have little to give, we must choose generosity and hope. Our family is choosing to trust and to persevere. We have determined that the ardor of life and work and family and friendship – of growth, health, healing and compassion – it’s all worth it. We have decided- regardless of our circumstances - not to be paralyzed by discouragement and fear, but to dance, to delight and to love. We have resolved to look for beauty, to look beyond ourselves and to periodically step into the shoes of another. We have chosen to believe that He is good, that His gifts are good, and we can no longer keep them for ourselves. So this holiday season, I have taken the liberty to dust off my soapbox on my family’s behalf (stick with me, I’m almost done). This year and the year ahead, I have purposed to give what I have to give: to write.

As 2008 reaches its conclusion and a year of uncertainty lies ahead, may we implore you to hope and to give good gifts that will edify, transform, redeem and endure. Give your time or your mind or maybe even a bit of your money (gasp!). Open your heart or your home or both. If necessary, rethink your priorities. Choose life, relationships and community. Have compassion. Step outside of yourself. Be authentic and unveiled. Dare to dream and to risk and to fail, and never, never, NEVER give up! Instead, realize that each of us has a gift to give – when we are abased and when we abound. Discover or rediscover your gifts, and determine to use them or to give them away. Above all, we urge you (and ourselves) to love and to love and to love some more.

And now, as the sun rises, the kiddos stir and the time has come to tuck away the soapbox for another December, know that you are loved. We are thankful for you, and we wish you all the best gifts of the season.

~Maya, Abi, Paul and Cole.

the day after

Maya and I celebrated the day after Thanksgiving
with a winning combination that has become our tradition:
The Boulder Philharmonic, The Nutcracker and Sushi.

thanksgiving '08

From our Thanksgiving celebration...

28 December 2008

an operation


This was a catalyst for change in our family this year. It began an incredible season of giving for my children this Christmas, and it stirred me as we approached the holidays. I have seen undeniable fruits of compassion and generosity nearly every day since.

Maya and Cole were understandably flabbergasted early this November, when they each received $20 with which to go on a shopping spree. I wish I had my camera to capture the moment I shared that the spree would be for two children we didn't know. It was awesome... priceless (sort of like: "Are you #@% INSANE?!").

After the initial shock, they warmed to the idea. Maya chose to shop for a five-year old girl and Cole, for a three-year old boy. For nearly a month, we talked about and thought about and prayed for these two children, then just before Thanksgiving, we hit the dollar bins at Super Target on their behalf. I collected and calculated for over an hour, as my children got outside of themselves. With stocked shopping baskets and cash in tow, they proudly paid for the items they selected (and they both came in under budget!!). I witnessed their hearts swell for two children they will never meet. It was beautiful. I cried.

When it was all over, Maya turned to me and said, "Momma, I didn't think I would like that very much, but I had so much FUN!" The experience was BY FAR my proudest, most successful moment as a parent in 2008. Possibly thus far.